Gelsenkirchen - Tuesday night's 1-1 draw with NK Maribor in the UEFA Champions League was a night of mixed feelings for FC Schalke 04 starlet Julian Draxler.
The 21-year-old made his return to the starting eleven after a two-game Bundesliga ban and looked dangerous for the Royal Blues, but couldn't hide his disappointment at the two points dropped against the Slovenian side in the Veltins Arena. Talking after the game, Draxler blamed a lack of a clinical instinct, as well lingering fatigue for the team's lacklustre display, but insisted that they can still recover after falling two points behind Group D leaders Chelsea FC:
Question: Julian Draxler, how do you feel about the draw?
Julian Draxler: We expected to do much better tonight and we were hoping for three points, but we can't forget that the last few weeks have been pretty tiring for the team. We’ve been working really hard to get back on track lately, and we’ve been doing brilliantly in the Bundesliga, but the game last weekend against Dortmund in particular was very exhausting.
Question: Were you happy with your own performance today?
Draxler: I may have been a bit fresher than some of my team-mates after missing the last two games, but unfortunately I didn’t manage to score and win us the game. I gave it my best, but it wasn’t meant to be. We just have to accept the draw and make sure we do better in the coming games.
Question: Were you surprised by Maribor’s brave showing?
Draxler: They gave us a lot of space, especially in the early stages, and we should’ve been more clinical and taken the lead. It would’ve made things a lot easier for us. Once Maribor took the lead, it was clear they would change tactics and park the bus, which made it difficult for us to get past their defence. We still managed to create a few chances but we didn't do enough to get a second goal.
Question: It seems you’re finding it easier playing against so-called bigger sides like Dortmund and Chelsea?
Draxler: I wouldn’t say that. It’s true that we did better against those sides, but we can play well against any team. Like I said, the recent games were tiring, some of our players were pretty exhausted, and you also have to remember that Maribor aren’t a bad side themselves. They’re playing in the Champions League after all.
Question: Schalke threw bodies forward in the dying stages but couldn't quite force a winning goal. Was this only down to the players being tired?
Draxler: It wasn’t just that, obviously. We didn’t do well enough going forward and should’ve made more of our play from wide areas. Maribor defended very deep in the latter stages of the game and made life difficult for us. You get games like that when you try everything but the ball just won’t go in. I had about ten attempts myself, the team probably had as many as 25.
Question: How do you rate Schalke’s chances of reaching the knock-out stages?
Draxler: We were expecting to win this game but now we’ll have to make sure we gain something in the coming matches. We’re at home to Sporting in our next game and we have to make sure we win that one.
Dietmar Nolte reporting from Gelsenkirchen